Meet our scholar recipients

Meet Angelique Melendrez

Survivorship is fighting through something so terrible and being able to make an impact on others through your bravery during and after your battle.

January 10, 2016. A day that was once notorious, is now and forever will be, a day cherished. It was the day that I was told that I had Leukemia. At first, I immediately thought “this is it, it’s the end.” At the time, my naive 17 year old mind could not comprehend that this was definitely not the end. It was just the beginning of a new life that I am proud to live today. My cancer journey had its ups and downs both in and out of the hospital. From being evicted out of my family’s home because my mom saw my new diagnosis a burden, to struggling with lonely back-to-back hospital stays, to dealing with the intensity of the chemotherapy, I could not tell you at the time which was worse. They were each their own separate demon. I just could not figure out what I did wrong, nor did I know “why me?” What I did know though, was that I was getting through every cycle of chemotherapy, procedure, and medication slowly but surely. Once I realized that, all the “whys” went away and in came the “hows?” The answer was very simple: I had cancer and therefore I was already a survivor.

Survivorship is not just a noun, but also a verb. Survivorship means that you have gained a mentality of resiliency that only certain lucky individuals have the ability to obtain. Lucky in the fact that our view of the world we live in, and the lives we live is extremely skewed from the average person’s. The ability we possess to see the hardships of our pasts as defining moments that led our present accomplishments, and encouragement to know that there is nothing that can stop us from achieving the goals we set for our futures. To me, survivorship has nothing to do with living or existing. Survivorship is fighting through something so terrible and being able to make an impact on others through your bravery during and after your battle.

Survivorship is that mentality you share with others to light the torch for a battle you cannot even begin to explain in words. The mentality that will keep you getting back up after being knocked down time and time again, and help you fight 10 times harder. The mentality that will help you battle not only the physically debilitating state, but also the mental war as well. The mentality that, no matter the outcome, will lead you to triumph because you will know every ounce of fight you had to give, you gave. That mentality is a badge of honor that only the bravest hold, and the strongest leave as a legacy.